Advocating for Two Way – All Day Go – while disputing High Speed Rail
First and foremost, two way – all day GO needs to be a priority above high-speed rail. Fact: an electrified conventional rail system on an improved track bed can get commuters to Toronto in just a bit more than 7 minutes beyond what high speed rail promises and at substantially lower costs.
So what is wrong with cheerleading for High Speed Rail?
Well, it’s unrealistic- its a multi-billion dollar endeavour with a minimal return on investment.
I stated my scepticism of this from when it was announced a number of years ago. Early in this term of Council I stated it again and was publicly blasted by the Mayor. Yet, I am still sceptical – even more sceptical with a Doug Ford Government in Toronto. High speed rail has been a non starter as it is too costly and the physics of a line from Guelph to Toronto do not make sense. (The truth: you cannot speed it up and slow it down between places like Guelph and Kitchener – hence it’s not high speed rail but rather conventional rail at a high price.)
Furthermore, I find it inconsistent of the City to call on the provincial government to build a high speed system when we have arguments over what to cut at the local level and that includes local transit. You can’t have it both ways – micro manage the bottom line and want other levels of government to make Guelph look good.
Two way GO makes sense but must be complimented by 100% track ownership and electrification. Until this is accomplished commuters will have to linger a little longer in traffic jams and buses that take 3 hours to get to Toronto.
On another front we also need far better Regional Transit. Yet getting it is tricky. We need to develop transit in cooperation with the Region of Waterloo and with Hamilton. However that requires provincial support and significant collaboration. We cannot do it alone but if we in Ontario truly wish to help get people out of cars and develop the Technology Corridor, it is imperative that we replace the private buses that get workers to KW with publicly supported buses that get people to KW, Cambridge, Hamilton and even as far away as Owen Sound.
Postscript – there is a downside to rail improvements: Two Way All Day GO imperils housing affordability in Guelph. It will lead to greater demand in the housing market. To keep Guelph housing reasonable for people who currently live here, we must embrace a housing strategy that will put cooperative, subsidized and rent geared to income housing in the ground. Yet, Guelph cannot afford this without a solid Federal and Provincial programme. Private developers won’t do it, it is simply too expensive. I doubt that Doug Ford feels too positive about it.